20 years ago The Rock *A* Teens played a small part in the history of the Atlanta, Georgia indie scene with a few EPs and albums. Some were released on the Superchunk-owned Merge label. This led to a reunion appearance at the Merge 25 festival and now a new album, Sixth House. Previously blurred by reverb, their sound is sharpened up and the songs are more anthemic. Limited translucent green vinyl, standard black vinyl and CD on Merge.
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There's actually a place called Cabbagetown in Georgia. I know this because The Rock*A*Teens come from there. They made some records in the 90s and 2000s on Merge but, as many do, have recently reformed to give it all another go.
Being a newcomer to their music I'm not going to go about comparing this to what they did earlier on but first track 'Billy Really' they, if leaving my socks on, have completely altered their positioning. It's fucking R.E.M. The guitars have that wonderfully plangent feel and singer Christopher Lopez has a Stipe grain in his voice though he's also a dead ringer for the Long Winters John Roderick. It also does that R.E.M thing of thinking you've got to the chorus when another, better, chorus comes in.
They are slightly more rough edged than REM though with rough and ready production and a passionate delivery from Lopez. On 'Turn and Smile' he brings to mind the earlier classic rock aiming sound Guided By Voices nailed on 'Sandbox'.
It's at around this time that I decide that I very possibly love this band. They skew guitar rock into their own messy shapes and Lopez is always on the bat with his lyrics and delivery. He reminds me of John Darnielle in that he's willing to sit on top of a song and stretch out his vowels. They can do slower ballads such as 'Baby's On To Me' but their rocky moments are bloody great. 'Closest to Heaven' is like Neil Young with a rickenbaker and the Hold Steady as a backing band.
It's vibrant exciting guitar rock that has a classic feel to it. People like our Robin will be pleased that it has a Springsteen stadium edge to it. If you like Springsteen and REM (i.e you are my dad) you're gonna love it.
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